Online Learning: One Student’s Take

The year 2020 presented itself as a year that no one will forget. As we all faced different challenges, one persistent struggle, especially with the younger generation and adults with children, was the adjustment to online learning while at home. 

As a student attending Fresno State, this transition affected me emotionally and physically. There have been many downsides, the main one being having to adjust to a new way of learning. 

When online learning first began, I noticed my motivation and drive to complete my work had significantly decreased. I found myself becoming depressed and feeling lonely. This feeling, combined with stress, made completing that spring semester a challenge. 

To this day, almost a year into online learning, I still find myself having to overcome these feelings in order to have a successful semester. I know I am not the only one going through this as I have had many conversations with other classmates, friends, and family members who feel the same way. 

At first, the change did not seem awful because I had more time for myself and more time to complete assignments because lecture time was significantly reduced, but I was mistaken. It was more challenging than I could have possibly imagined. 

Not only were students feeling the stress from the change, but teachers also felt the heat and pressure to help students succeed in their education. All teachers had to learn new systems and programs to incorporate into their schoolwork since physical materials could no longer be provided.   

Classes that required hands-on teaching were no longer being offered because materials could not be provided, meaning that the students who needed this kind of hands-on teaching could no longer receive it.

Chris Morgan, an art lecturer from Fresno State, had to change his teaching methods and course materials in order to continue teaching in an online setting. 

I needed to simplify the projects by lowering the requirements for several portfolio projects and also reduced the number of portfolio projects that were due at the end of the semester,” Morgan said. “To ensure that students are comprehending the initial drawing concepts, I had to add extra preliminary exercises. Much of what I could have seen and corrected in a studio class required more repetitions by students to reveal any issues that they had.

Morgan experienced many challenges as he transitioned into online teaching, but he was able to overcome them by using certain devices and apps to allow him to do his demonstrations. 

“I recently obtained a larger XP-Pen Artist 15.6” Pro graphic display, a pressure-sensitive pen, and a tablet that is a secondary monitor that is directly drawn on, which should make demonstrations easier,” Morgan said. “I primarily used Adobe Photoshop for drawing demonstrations, but I will add other programs such as Corel Painter to create a digital experience for my students that more closely emulates their experiences using the actual drawing media, such as color pencils, conté crayons, or charcoal.”

Even though Chris Morgan found a way to teach online effectively, he is still looking for more ways to make learning easier for his students. 

“I am still investigating the best method of recording demonstrations on my laptop because my skills with a camera are not where I would like them to be and my home is a less than ideal place to do live recordings.” 

On top of changing their teaching methods and course materials, learning and teaching students how to properly use Zoom to communicate and view lessons was an enormous adjustment and an added stress for some teachers, especially those teaching younger students. 

The reduction of class time has also led to teachers not having enough time to complete full-guided curriculums and instructions, leaving some students teaching themselves or asking parents for additional help. Students are becoming more confused and stressed because they have no idea how to complete their work or are having to do it by themselves without any support. 

It’s even worse for younger students who do not have parents who know how to complete their work or understand the material.

If I had known before that everything was going to change, I would have appreciated the ability to go on campus for school more. With every class being online and the inability to have any in-person human contact with others, my appreciation for on-campus classes and experiences has increased.

Even though the anticipation is high, I know the adjustment back to societal norms will also be a challenge, just like it was during the transition to online learning. But this is nothing to be frightened of. We have found strength in each other during this difficult time, we have grown together as a community, and we will continue to thrive through any obstacle that comes our way. 

Alexis Zuniga (she/her/hers)

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